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Andrea Shaw and Duncan Russell-Smith

Homes

We do love a quirky and creative rental home, and today’s sweet love nest in Geelong is a beauty.

This is home to designer / maker Andrea Shaw of Stampel, and her partner Duncan Russell-Smith, who is a furniture maker.  This creative couple made the move  to Geelong in January 2014, after Duncan got a job with a furniture maker in Torquay.  Originally, they had hoped for a place along the surf coast (about 30 minutes beyond Geelong), but after a fruitless hunt looking for rentals near the beach during the busy summer period, they came across this amazing 1960’s home in town. It wasn’t exactly what they had in mind… but a welcome diversion!

1st April, 2015
Lucy Feagins
Wednesday 1st April 2015

Designer / maker Andrea Shaw of Stampel and her partner Duncan Russell-Smith, a furniture maker, didn’t originally intend to move to Geelong.  After Duncan secured a job in Torquay, the pair had hoped to find a place to rent on the Victorian surf coast, but after a fruitless month of house hunting during the busy summer period, they came across this amazing 1960’s home instead.

‘It was the house that drew us to Geelong, we hadn’t really considered living here before’ says Andrea. ‘We’re still tossing up whether to try to move to Torquay which would be closer to work for both of us, but the conversation always ends with one of us saying “I really like this place though”!’

This character filled house, with it’s generous proportions and four bedrooms, affords both Andrea and Duncan the space to indulge their creative passions when they’re not at work. One bedroom has been converted into a dedicated yoga room for Andrea, who moonlights as a yoga teacher and cherishes her daily yoga practice. When not making furniture, Duncan makes electronic music, and has turned another room into his music studio. Ahhh the joys of SPACE!

As they are renting, Andrea and Duncan have done very little to their home since moving in, other than filling the space with much loved vintage finds, Duncan’s handcrafted furniture, a veritable jungle of lush indoor plants and artwork by Andrea and a host of creative friends.  One particularly favourite piece is the dining table, made by Duncan before he completed his training. ‘He just sees the imperfections in it, but I love the big wonky red gum slab that we bought for $40 off the Bendigo wood turners association’ says Andrea. This striking piece sits pride of place in the sunny front dining room, with an incredible floor to ceiling shale stone wall as its impressive backdrop.

Andrea and Duncan’s most cherished possessions, though, are two very special portraits of their late mothers, commissioned from Melbourne artist Sandra Eterovic.  ‘These are our favourite pieces of artwork in the house, they hang out in our front sitting room, which is a small sunny space at the front of the house where we eat breakfast, drink tea and read books’ says Andrea. Along with other collected treasures, these sweet family portraits perfectly complement the character of the home.

That incredible timber panelling and the striking stone walls are, of course, the most distinctive aspect of this house.  ‘We love all the timber details in the house, the windows and door framing, panelled walls and in-built cupboards, and all the stonework gives it such a nice feel’ says Andrea.  There’s not much they would change even if they did own the place, Andrea admits. ‘With a place like this I think not staying true to the era would be a shame’ she says.

Nostalgia is a funny thing.  When a place reminds you of the past, it seems somehow instantly friendly and familiar.  For me, Andrea and Duncan’s house is a little like this. I felt that I almost ‘knew’ this house even before I had set foot inside. It’s a home that channels the kind of 70’s beach shacks my family would rent over summer when I was a kid (I’m talking late 1980’s / early 1990’s), endearingly rough around the edges, but robust and cheerful and full of fun memories. This is a house with its own unique charm, perfectly enhanced with plant life, handcrafted furniture and sweet personal details.  It’s a house that makes you feel right at home.

Living room details – Illum Wikkelso three-seater and arm chair, textiles from travels, Pacific weavings/fans on wall from  the Cook Islands alongside artworks by Ellie Malin, Jai Vasicek, hat/bag hanger by Duncan, paper collage by Andrea and all other prints collected from travels, op shops or local markets. Photo – Eve Wilson. Production – Lucy Feagins / The Design Files.

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